Microsoft-Activision deal can proceed, US court rules

11 Jul 2023

Image: © sdx15/

The latest twist in the monumental gaming acquisition has seen an FTC request to block the deal denied by a California judge.

In what has been described as the largest consumer tech deal in two decades, Microsoft has taken one step closer to acquiring Activision Blizzard today (11 July).

Following the US Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) request to block the deal, a judge has ruled that the tech giant may go forward with its planned takeover of the gaming company for $69bn.

Last month, the FTC filed a complaint, temporarily blocking the deal, stating that this was necessary “to maintain the status quo and prevent harm to competition”.

In his ruling today, Judge Corley said that while the deal deserves scrutiny, Microsoft had made sufficient commitments to bring Activision’s content to several cloud gaming services.

“This court’s responsibility in this case is narrow. It is to decide if, notwithstanding these current circumstances, the merger should be halted – perhaps even terminated – pending resolution of the FTC administrative action,” he said.

“For the reasons explained, the court finds the FTC has not shown a likelihood it will prevail on its claim this particular vertical merger in this specific industry may substantially lessen competition.”

Microsoft first announced plans to acquire the gaming company behind Call of Duty and Candy Crush in January last year. It was estimated at the time that the acquisition would make Microsoft the world’s third-largest video game company by revenue after Tencent and Sony.

Soon after the announcement, the two companies were hit by a barrage of regulatory scrutiny across both sides of the Atlantic.

In April of this year, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority said it was blocking the deal, on grounds that it would stifle innovation and choice in cloud gaming. Microsoft is currently appealing that decision with a hearing set to start on 28 July.

A month later however, the EU gave Microsoft and Activision its blessing to go ahead with the deal following an in-depth review.

In response to today’s ruling, Microsoft president Brad Smith said the company was grateful for the court’s “quick and thorough decision” and said he hoped other jurisdictions would continue working towards a timely resolution. The FTC now has until 14 July to appeal the judge’s ruling.

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Jenny Darmody is the editor of Silicon Republic